Analyzing the NCAA Tournament resume for every Big 12 team

Heading into Saturday’s slate of Big 12 games, the league’s 10 teams have just five games left until the Big 12 Tournament in Kansas City, Mo.

The Big 12 is also the only conference in Division I where every team has a winning record —  every single team. All 10 of the Big 12 teams also rank in the top 100 of the RPI ratings.

Kansas was the highest-rated team at No. 6 when the NCAA announced the top 16 seeds on Sunday.

But how many teams will make the NCAA Tournament? Any number from five to nine seems possible.

DieHards currently projects six teams to earn berths, while Bracket Matrix  — a site that aggregates bracket predictions — projects seven teams, with an eighth among its First Four Out group.

So let’s examine each team’s NCAA Tournament resume as it stands right now.

DieHards Bracketology

Below is Eric Yates’ DieHards bracket projections, which is updated weekly on Monday.

Big 12 teams have been highlighted.

Locks

Texas Tech

Record: 22-4, 10-3 Big 12

DieHards seed: 2

Bracket Matrix seed: 3

RPI Ranking: 11

RPI Strength of Schedule: 64

Record vs. RPI Top 100: 13-4

The Red Raiders are in no doubt of making the tournament. They’re assured a single-digit seed.

But can Texas Tech earn a No. 1 seed in March?

A Big 12 regular season title is within reach for Texas Tech. That’d go a long way for the Red Raiders’ case for a top seed. Matchups against Kansas and West Virginia in late February are also key litmus tests, as is the Big 12 tournament.

Kansas

Record: 20-6, 9-4 Big 12

DieHards seed: 3

Bracket Matrix seed: 2

RPI Ranking: 9

RPI Strength of Schedule: 4

Record vs. RPI Top 100: 16-6

Like the Red Raiders, the Jayhawks are vying to be in consideration for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Kansas’ strength of schedule will go a long way to their case, as would a Big 12 title — either regular season or tournament. The Jayhawks have six wins over RPI top 50 teams, with victories over Kentucky, Syracuse and Texas A&M coming outside of conference play.

The Jayhawks have proved themselves to the Big 12 and the rest of the country all season. Any hardware should be enough of a cover charge for a top seed.

Either way, don’t expect Kansas to earn anything less than a No. 2 seed.

West Virginia

Record: 19-7, 8-5 Big 12

DieHards seed: 5

Bracket Matrix seed: 4

RPI Ranking: 32

RPI Strength of Schedule: 59

Record vs. RPI Top 100: 11-7

One of the Big 12’s most puzzling teams, West Virginia is primed to earn a respectable seed in March.

Yet, the Mountaineers haven’t had a 2-0 week since the first week of January. They’re 4-4 against RPI top 25 teams and 5-5 against RPI top 50 teams.

West Virginia’s best path forward is to earn a seed that’s No. 4 or better. DieHards projects the Mountaineers as a No. 5 seed, meaning they’ll be part of the dreaded 5-12 matchup in the first round.

Regular season matchups against Kansas and Texas Tech are the only ranked opponents West Virginia has left on its docket. That gives the Mountaineers an opportunity to finish the season with at least three — or more — to reinforce its record and seeding.

Oklahoma

Record: 16-9, 6-7 Big 12

DieHards seed: 5

Bracket Matrix seed: 5

RPI Ranking: 22

RPI Strength of Schedule: 13

Record vs. RPI Top 100: 9-9

A losing record in Big 12 play and nine losses to RPI top 100 teams doesn’t bode well for Oklahoma.

But make no mistake — the Sooners are a lock for the tournament and have enough firepower to earn a top-4 seed and make a run at the Final Four.

Wins over USC, Wichita State and Oregon are the biggest boosts to the Sooners’ non-conference resume. Like West Virginia, Oklahoma is playing for as high of a seed as possible to avoid any first round traps.

Work left to do

Kansas State

Record: 18-8, 7-6 Big 12

DieHards seed: First Four Out

Bracket Matrix Seed: 11

RPI Ranking: 63

RPI Strength of Schedule: 102

Record vs. RPI Top 100: 7-8

Sitting in fourth place in the Big 12 standings, K-State is arguably in the most comfortable position of any Big 12 team that’s not already a lock.

It’s strength of schedule is a point of concern — the Wildcats rank 344th out of 351 Division I team in non-conference schedule strength — but K-State has earned seven wins over RPI top 100 teams.

Kansas State’s best wins are at home against then-No. 4 Oklahoma and then-No. 24 TCU. Its six wins away from home are also tied for the most in the Big 12.

The Wildcats are 0-6 against Texas Tech, Kansas and West Virginia, the teams above them in the conference standings. But they’re 7-0 against the six teams below them, and K-State’s final five regular season games are against that group. Three of them are at home.

If the Wildcats defend Bramlage Coliseum, they’ll earn a berth into the tournament. If they win a game in the Big 12 Tournament, they’ll escape the First Four round.

Baylor

Record: 16-10, 6-7 Big 12

DieHards seed: First Four Out

Bracket Matrix seed: First Four Out

RPI Ranking: 54

RPI Strength of Schedule: 26

Record vs. RPI Top 100: 7-10

If you blinked at all in the last two weeks, you probably missed Baylor’s surge into NCAA Tournament conversation.

The Bears spent the first half of the Big 12 season accompanying Iowa State at the bottom of the standings. Now, Baylor hasn’t lost in the month of February, winning four straight games. Including in that stretch is an upset of Kansas and a road win over Texas.

All of a sudden, Baylor has the same number of RPI top 100 wins as K-State and sits fifth in the Big 12 standings, one game behind the Wildcats.

The Bears’ next two games are against Texas Tech and West Virginia, both in Waco. A win in one of those two games should move Baylor out of the First Four Out group into 11-seed conversation. Then, it’ll be up to the Bears to maintain their resume.

A regular season finale in Manhattan against Kansas State is suddenly looking like a major bubble game for both teams.

Texas

Record: 15-11, 5-8 Big 12

DieHards seed: 10

Bracket Matrix seed: 10

RPI Ranking: 56

RPI Strength of Schedule: 18

Record vs. RPI Top 100: 7-11

A win over Oklahoma on Feb. 3 felt like a turning point for the Longhorns — a pivot towards contender status within the Big 12.

Instead, Texas has lost three games in a row since that upset. That includes two games at home to Kansas State and Baylor.

The Wildcats and Bears boosted their resumes with those wins at the expense of the Longhorns’ chances. Texas now seems like a team in free-fall.

The next two games for Texas are trips to Oklahoma and K-State, certainly not what the doctor ordered. The Longhorns certainly have time to correct course, and its strength of schedule buys Texas some leeway in the committee’s minds — as do wins over Butler and at Alabama.

But if Shaka Smart and Co. want to escape the First Four round — or being left out of the tournament all together — they have to right the ship now.

TCU

Record: 17-9, 5-8 Big 12

DieHards seed: 7

Bracket Matrix seed: 8

RPI Ranking: 26

RPI Strength of Schedule: 12

Record vs. RPI Top 100: 11-8

The Horned Frogs are another puzzling team to pin down in the Big 12.

On the one hand, their strength of schedule according to RPI ranks 12th nationally. TCU was undefeated at 12-0 before the start of conference play, and it has 11 wins over RPI top 100 teams.

On the other hand, TCU is ninth in the Big 12 standings, ahead of only Iowa State. It’s only 5-8 in league action and has struggled with the loss of Jaylen Fisher to injury.

TCU is still a single-digit seed by virtually all bracket projections — non-conference wins over St. Bonaventure and Nevada are nice buoys their resume.

Only one ranked team, Texas Tech, is left on TCU’s regular season slate. The Horned Frogs are now in the precarious position of either locking up its bid, or seeing the bottom fall out with a slew of losses to unranked foes.

Longshots

Oklahoma State

Record: 15-11, 5-8 Big 12

DieHards seed: out

Bracket Matrix seed: Next Four Out

RPI Ranking: 87

RPI Strength of Schedule: 87

Record vs. RPI Top 100: 7-10

Seven wins over RPI top 100 teams — the same as three of the four teams in the “Work Left to Do” category of this analysis — is keeping Oklahoma State afloat for now in the bubble conversation.

An 82-72 beatdown at home to K-State on Wednesday night, though, is now a big obstacle to overcome.

Oklahoma State is 5-1 over its last six games on Saturday, while 0-6 over its last six midweek tilts.

The Cowboys have to show more consistency to boost its resume. Home matchups against Texas Tech and Kansas, as well as the Big 12 Tournament, could give Oklahoma State enough opportunity to prove itself to the committee.

Iowa State

Record: 13-12, 4-9 Big 12

DieHards seed: out

Bracket Matrix seed: out

RPI Ranking: 91

RPI Strength of Schedule: 33

Record vs. RPI Top 100: 6-11

The only Big 12 team not in serious consideration in either DieHards’ or Bracket Matrix’s projections, Iowa State is certainly in the most danger of not making the cut on Selection Sunday.

Yet, the Cyclones have an interesting enough resume to merit consideration and envision a path forward.

Iowa State has RPI top 100 home wins over Texas Tech, West Virginia, Oklahoma, Baylor, Tulsa and Boise State — the latter a major bubble team.

The Cyclones also have a horrid loss to Milwaukee — a 74-56 decision to a team currently ranked No. 223 in the RPI.

Iowa State’s best path could be in the Big 12 Tournament. The Cyclones are the only team to win the conference tournament in Kansas City while being lower than a four-seed — and they’ve done it twice in the last four years.

A strong contingent of Iowa State fans usually make the trip to Kansas City, giving the Cyclones some much-needed Hilton Magic away from Ames.

Bubble teams to watch outside the Big 12

Obviously the Big 12’s number of berths into the NCAA Tournament isn’t solely based on how each team finishes out conference play. There’s a whole world of college basketball out there, including a slew of over high major teams vying for the last few bids into March Madness.

Here’s a few teams currently sitting on the bubble that fans of Big 12 schools that aren’t locks should be paying attention to:

  • Boise State
  • LSU
  • Mississippi State
  • NC State
  • Nebraska
  • SMU
  • St. Bonaventure
  • Temple
  • USC
  • Virginia Tech
  • Washington

The more losses these teams suffer, the more spots could open up for Big 12 teams to take.

The post Analyzing the NCAA Tournament resume for every Big 12 team appeared first on Diehards.

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